from the July/August 2020 issue
Mazen Kerbaj is a Lebanese comics author, visual artist, and musician born in Beirut in 1975. He also works on selective illustration and design projects and has taught at the American University of Beirut. Kerbaj is the author of more than fifteen books, and his short stories and drawings have been published in anthologies, newspapers, and magazines. His work has been translated into more than ten languages and has been shown in galleries, museums, and art fairs around the world.
Mazen Kerbaj is widely considered as one of the initiators and key players of the Lebanese free improvisation and experimental music scene. He is co-founder of Irtijal, an annual improvisation music festival (www.irtijal.org), and of Al Maslakh, the first label for experimental music in the region operating since 2005. In 2015, Kerbaj was the recipient of a DAAD one-year artist in residency in Berlin. He has lived and worked in the German capital ever since then.
Since his move to Berlin, Kerbaj has developed several new projects in different fields, such as Borborygmus, a play co-written, directed and performed with Rabih Mroué and Lina Majdalanie; Synesthesia, a concept for a live graphic score for an improvising ensemble; and Walls Will Fall, a composition for forty-nine trumpets. He also started working on Antoine, his most ambitious graphic novel to date.
Translated from French by Edward Gauvin
A 2021 Guggenheim fellow, Edward Gauvin has translated in various fields from film to fiction, with a personal focus on contemporary comics (BD) and post-Surrealist literatures of the fantastic. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Harper’s, and World Literature Today, and twice placed in the British Comparative Literature Association’s John Dryden Translation Competition. It has also been shortlisted for several major awards—the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize, the Albertine Prize, the Best Translated Book Award, the National Translation Award—and twice nominated for French-American Foundation Translation Prize. He has received fellowships from the NEA, PEN America, the Fulbright program, and the Centre National du Livre, as well as residencies from Ledig House, the Lannan Foundation, the Banff Centre, and the Belgian government. A multiple grantee of the French Voices program from the French Embassy, he is a frequent contributor to their cultural initiatives. As a translation advocate, he has written widely, spoken at universities and festivals, and taught at the Bread Loaf Translation Conference, where he will be returning (virtually) this summer. The translator of over 400 graphic novels, he is a contributing editor for comics at Words Without Borders.
Photo credit: Quitterie de Fomervault-Bernard © 2016.